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The Just World of Bees

This Summer, we had the opportunity to visit one of our longtime vendors and dive full-hive into the world of beekeeping at TruBee’s farm in Eagleville, Tennessee. Located an hour south of Nashville, the immersive experience provided by owners Laura Kimball and Jeff Otto is the perfect day trip activity if you’re looking to escape the city, or enjoy an attraction you won’t find on Yelp.

Upon pulling in, we were greeted by a happy palette of wildflowers, lavender, and Russian sage, and the quaint feeling that we could lounge in the Adirondack chairs and breathe in the fresh, floral air for the rest of the day. After a quick tour, it was time to get zipped into our (thankfully, ventilated) bee suit… and it’s off to the bee-borhood we went!

Most people know just enough about bees to know they don’t want to be near them, but after one visit to TruBee, we think you’ll be just as impressed by these industrious little insects as we are! And the chance to poke your finger into a hive’s honeycomb to taste the freshest honey you’re ever going to eat? Well, that’s just a perk. Here are three of our favorite facts we learned about bees (the rest we’ll leave you to discover for yourself!):

Bees are the Queens of Hostess Gifts

If you grew up in the South, you were probably taught pretty early the unwavering rule of always arriving with a host(ess) gift, but bees, as it turns out, are more savage than even the most devastating “bless your heart” ever muttered. When a bee arrives at a new hive, she is met by the guard bees (bouncers, if you will), and she’d better not be empty-handed. A bee who arrives at a new hive without nectar or pollen--something valuable to contribute to the success of the hive--is turned away and left to fend for herself. 

Evil Queens Don't Get Happy Endings

You've heard the adage, "one rotten apple spoils the bunch," or "a bad boss can ruin a good job." In a bee colony, the Queen sets the tone for the entire hive. If a Queen is productive, the hive will be productive. If a Queen is lazy, the hive will follow suit. If a Queen is mean, the hive will become aggressive. The catch is that a hive won’t tolerate a meanie Queenie for long. It’s not in bees’ nature to let anything stand in the way of their survival or success. If Her Royal Highness is a royal pain in the stinger, they’ll stage a coup, kill her, and raise a new Queen. Deserve the crown, or get taken down. 

Who Run the World? Girls.

Bees have lived in hyper-organized caste systems run by females since long before #girlboss was a thing. The worker bees (females) outnumber the drones (males) 100:1, and the worker bees do all the… well, work. The first job a worker bee has is to clean her own cell. She is then given the responsibility of protecting and caring for the larvae. As she grows, a worker bee will keep getting promoted through the ranks, and eventually perform tasks like guarding the hive, foraging for pollen, making honey, or attending the Queen. So what do the drones do? The drones’ only job is to mate with the Queen. Sound like a sweet deal, fellas? We should probably mention that only the Queen gets a round-trip ticket on this flight. It’s a rare drone that survives a mating flight, and those who do--along with those who have failed at their duty and are still buzzing around come winter--are kicked out into the cold to die. Don’t do the work? Don’t get the perks. Jeff Otto’s summation? “It’s a just world.”

TruBee Farm offers private tours for $10/person, with a 5-person (or $50) minimum. To schedule a beekeeping tour, email info@trubeehoney.com (and tell them Batch sent you)! Want to try some of TruBee’s products? Stop by Batch in the Nashville Farmer’s Market, or visit our online store.

   


Crystal Elsey
Crystal Elsey

Author

Crystal moved to Nashville in 2009, long enough ago to remember being able to parallel park on Broadway on a Friday night. When she's not slinging ink about local flair for the Batch Blog, she enjoys punny crosswords, long naps, making handmade pasta, hiking Tennessee's waterfalls, not sharing pizza, and riding around on her cherry-red moped, "Rosie" (named for Betty White's character on the Golden Girls). She lives downtown with her Pomeranian pup, Tanner, who joins her for "Bark in the Park" baseball nights, Sunday strolls through Germantown, and Schitt's Creek marathons on the couch. She hates blue cheese and podcasts, and has never once figured out how to use a public bus system. Her hopes and dreams for the future include living in Europe, finally using the word "prolific" correctly, and having a pet hedgehog named Sedgewick.